China Plans To Open The World’s First Panda Retirement Home

After a lifetime of chomping on bamboo, older pandas can lose their teeth, so keepers give them chopped up, softer 'bamboo salads' with corn porridge. Nukul Chanada/Shutterstock

As pandas in captivity now live longer than ever, China is planning to open the world’s first panda “retirement home” to look after the veteran iconic animals.

A panda is considered elderly at 20 years old, yet the current record holder, Basi, who lives in Fujian province in southeast China, recently turned an impressive 37 years old. But with old age comes a new set of physical and emotional requirements that need to be catered for. Bad teeth, poor digestion, failing eyesight, stiffening joints, all of these need to be addressed to ensure the pandas receive the highest quality of care as they enter their twilight years.

So now China is planning to open a retirement home for the elderly pandas that will take care of their needs, including customized diets, gentle exercise, company, and comfortable places to have a snooze.

"Of course we spend more energy taking care of old pandas," Xu Yalin, who has been a keeper at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda Dujiangyan Base in Sichuan province for 19 years, told the Associated Press. "Every day we need to interact with them closely and check their mental state."

Xu looks after three pandas over the age of 20 at the base. For those who have teeth worn down by a lifetime of chomping on bamboo, the young, soft bamboo leaves are reserved and incorporated into special diets. Younger pandas eat wowotou bread, a mix of corn and sorghum, but the older pandas get a mix of fruit and smooth corn porridge, which is much easier to slurp and digest. Xu also makes sure the pandas get a little light exercise, making them stand and stretch their limbs, like a sort of panda-esque yoga.

In addition to this old panda home, China recently announced plans to build a national park to save the Siberian tiger and Amur leopard, an endeavor that would be 60 percent larger than Yellowstone. The country will also close all their domestic markets for ivory by the end of 2017, a move in line with their recent positive trend toward helping save endangered species. 

Discussing one her charges, 24-year-old Qiao Yuan, Xu said "taking care of an old panda is just like taking care of an old person."

We are so on board with this plan, we’re looking forward to hearing more about what might possibly be the world’s most adorable old people’s home.

[H/T: The Associated Press]

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